The governing board of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) has suspended the scheme’s embattled Executive Secretary, Usman Yusuf, in a clear defiance to President Muhammadu Buhari, who reinstated him months back.
President Buhari had on February 6, reinstated Mr. Yusuf who had been indicted for embezzlement and investigated by anti-graft agencies.
In taking the decision, the president brazenly sidelined Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, ignored anti-graft investigators and brushed aside the advice from closest aides.
In a series of investigations, NEXT EDITION had uncovered how Mr. Yusuf pocketed millions in illegal estacodes and allowances, misappropriated over N1 billion of the scheme’s funds and how Mr. Buhari reinstated him despite an indictment by an administrative panel ordered by Mr. Osinbajo.
Click here to read past reports on the matter: INVESTIGATION: How Reinstated NHIS Boss Misappropriated over N1bn, INVESTIGATION: How NHIS boss Yusuf pocketed millions of naira in illegal estacodes, allowances
Weeks after his illegal reinstatement which was condemned by activists including the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption, Itse Sagay and Lagos lawyer, Femi Falana, anti-graft agencies confirmed to this newspaper, Mr. Yusuf was still being investigated.
But in spite of strong condemnation that trailed the reinstatement of Mr. Yusuf, who was suspended on the orders of Mr. Osinbajo, then acting president, Mr. Buhari, had refused to rescind the decision.
However, nine months after the infamous action, the NHIS’ governing board announced it has indefinitely suspended Mr. Yusuf.
The chairperson of the board, Ifenne Enyanatu, announced board’s decision after a two-day closed-door meeting at the headquarters of the agency in Abuja on Thursday.
Mrs. Enyanatu said the council resolved to suspend Mr Yusuf because it has been inundated with petitions and infractions against him.
She said the board has also to set up an administrative panel to examine allegations made against the embattled NHIS boss.
She said, “The panel has three months to complete its assignment and report back to us.
“We consulted and got the approval of the honourable Minister of Health before this suspension.”
According to the board chairperson, the decision to again suspend Mr. Yusuf is to allow the panel an unfettered space to do a thorough investigation.
Pending the completion of the investigation, she said the board has appointed Sadiq Abubakar, acting executive of the scheme.
But when contacted on the telephone, Mr. Yusuf, who had in past insulted our correspondent each time he was contacted to speak on the many allegations against him, said the call was made to a wrong number.
The following conversation ensued between our correspondent and the suspended NHIS boss:
“Hello, Sir. Am I speaking with the executive secretary of the NHIS,” our correspondent asked?
“Who are you,” Mr. Yusuf responded.
“I am calling from the NEXT EDITION newspaper, Lagos. We learnt you have just been suspended by the board of the NHIS. What happened,” our reporter replied.
“This is a wrong number,” Mr. Yusuf said he switched off his phone.